This completed study was supported by the National Eye Institute, grant R01-EY10019. The Project periods were 12/1/92–5/31/97, 9/30/98–9/30/04. The research took place at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the principal investigator was Kurt Kaczmarek.
Research in this effort has shown that:
- Controlled, localized touch sensations can be induced via electrical stimulation on the fingertips.
- Subjects can identify simple geometric patterns via haptic exploration of a matrix of small electrodes embedded in a flat plate.
- Sensory adaptation on the fingertips is somewhat less than that on the abdomen, particularly if the fingertips are allowed to move over the surface of the electrode array.
- It is possible to identify small spatial patterns presented at the level of sensory threshold, whereas good pattern identification performance requires stimuli presented at 1.5 times threshold.
- A contrast (ratio of pattern intensity to background intensity) of at least 2 is required for good performance in identification of small spatial patterns.
- The timing of pulses and bursts in the stimulation waveform affects the pattern identification performance. In general, more pulses per second yield better performance. Subjects are able to estimate the correlation of tactile scatterplots presented on the fingertips.
Final report for both project segments, 12/1/92–5/31/97 and 9/30/98–9/30/04, includes a complete list of all publications resulting from the research.